One of the easiest ways of using herbs for health is in your diet. Herbs not only make food more palatable, but they offer a wealth of nutritional benefits as well. Although the nutritional value of herbs we consume in our meals may be small, limited by the relatively small amounts involved, their therapeutic benefits are likely to be large by comparison. Most herbs we use in cooking today were first used medicinally, so including some herbs in your diet will give you the added benefit of their medicinal properties.
Here are 12 herbs that should be part of a healthy diet.
Basil- A very mild flavour, slightly sweet. A good addition to pasta sauces, pesto etc.
A natural tranquiliser that improves digestion, acts a tonic, an antioxidant, relieves stomach cramps and calms the nervous system. Eases colds, flu, fever,, constipation, vomiting and headaches.
Bay - Amild flavour, slightly sweet. Used in soups casseroles and stews and an important ingredient in a bouquet garni.
Stimulates and aids digestion
Borage- Leaves often used in salads.
Aids respiratory infections
Chervil- Tastes slightly like parsley with a hint of aniseed.
Stimulates digestion. Chervil is a good source of antioxidant, treats headaches, sinusitis, peptic ulcers, and infections.
Chives - A member of the onion family but much smaller and milder. Popular in soups and stews and as a garnish to many dishes such as potatoes.
Used to stimulate the appetite and aid digestion
Coriander - Strong pungent flavour is suitable for curries, in sauces and dressing salads.
Leaves, when eaten raw, act as a tonic for the stomach and heart. Both seeds and leaves are used to treat the urinary tract and avoid infections.
Current research indicates, coriander may help to lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
Dill - Predominately used with fish, in soups and for pickling.
Has Antioxidant, antimicrobial and diuretic properties. Effective in the relief of gripes and flatulence.
Fennel - Has a strong aniseed flavour. Used widely in sauces and in stuffings, especially for fish dishes.
Aids digestion, helps prevent excessive flatulence, nausea, vomiting and insomnia. Fennel has antibacterial properties.
Oregano - Strong distinctive flavour, used extensively in cooking, in stuffings, sauces and is particularly popular in Italian dishes.
Aids digestion and aids relief of flu, colds and coughs. High levels of phytochemicals and antioxidants
Rosemary - Mild sweetish flavour. Good flavouring for many cooked meats, especially Lamb.
Stimulates the nervous and circulatory systems, helps relieve headaches, neuralgia and colds; can boost energy and improve memory. High in antioxidants, antimicrobials and beneficial in eliminating free radicals.
Sage - Particularly good with Pork and in stuffings for meat, chicken and fish.
Has antiseptic, anti-perspirant and antifungal properties, calms indigestion eases diarrhoea, excessive sweating, eases sore throats, coughs and colds.
Thyme - Has a strong aromatic flavour making it very popular in cooking.
An antioxidant, antiseptic and expectorant.
Herbs owe their flavours and medicinal properties to the essential oils they all contain. By eating a healthy diet containing herbs, we make use of their therapeutic properties and tap into the holistic approach of herbal therapy which seeks to maintain our health and wellbeing and not wait for the onset of illness before seeking a cure.